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Pondy bans idol immersion in sea

Pondicherry

Sept 11 2002

The Pondicherry govt today issued orders prohibiting immersion of Ganesha idols in the sea. It is usual practice to immerse the idols after Ganesh Chaturthi.

But this year, concerns on receding shore line has prompted Department of Ports to issue the above orders, official sources said.

Pondy literacy above national average

Pondicherry

Sept 9 2002

The Union Territory of Pondicherry has registered 81.49 percentage of literacy against the national average of 65.38, according to Lt Governor, Dr K R Malkani.

He disclosed this while addressing teachers on the occasion of the Teachers Day celebrations here today. He also distributed cash awards and gold medals to 19 teachers of government schools.

Teachers Day, which was celebrated by the nation on September 5, was postponed in Pondicherry due to the food poisoning incident in the Union Territory on that day and it was celebrated today.

Malkani also said Jeevanandham Government Higher Secondary School at Karamanikuppam here had bagged the President’s appreciation and cash award for giving the best computer education in the country as whole among the govt schools.

Education Minister K Lakshminarayanan also detailed steps taken to improve the well-being of the teachers. In all, 199 teachers were honoured on the occasion. Rajya Sabha member C P Tirunavukarasu and AIADMK legislator Anbalagan also spoke.

Chennai abuzz with rumours about M Karunanidhi

Chennai

Sept 11 2002

News agencies, newspapers and Chennai residents were flooded with several phone calls about the health condition of former Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK president M Karunanidhi.

DMK party sources said the party boss was “hale and hearty” and that he was in the party office till late night.

The city was abuzz with rumours about Karunanidhi and shops downed shutters in several places. Sources said police went on patrols to tell people not to believe the rumours and tried to restore normalcy. The rumour was said to have spread to the southern districts also.

Sun TV then flashed a ticker which said the DMK chief was in good health and that the party headquarters requested the people not to believe rumours about him.

Salem District Congress chief shot dead

Chennai

Sept 12 2002

Salem district Congress chief Talamuthu Natarajan and his bodyguard were shot dead by a gang of robbers at his residence in Salem, early today, police said.

They said the gang entered his house around 2 A.M. and shot at him when he offered resistance.

He was rushed to a govt hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Two of his sons were also injured when the robbers fired at them before fleeing with some cash and jewels.

In a statement TNCC President E V K S Elangovan condemned the killing and said the murder had only proved his oft-repeated charge that the law and order situation in the state was deteriorating

Jammu&Kashmir Minister, guards shot dead at poll rally

Srinagar

Sept 11 2002

In a setback to the National Conference and to the electoral process in Jammu and Kashmir, a militant today shot dead the Minister of State for Law and National Conference (NC) nominee from the Lolab constituency, Mushtaq Ahmed Lone, and three of his guards in Kupwara district. Seven others were injured in the attack for which the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has claimed the responsibility. Militants also attacked the residence of the Tourism Minister, Sakina Ittoo, and a vehicle belonging a People's Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in Bandipore, injuring nine persons.

Eyewitnesses told that the 43-year-old Mr. Lone was addressing a public meeting in Rednag in the Tekipora area of the Lolab segment. Around 1 p.m., a militant wearing a traditional Kashmiri "pheran" (a long coat used in winter) stood up from the women's enclosure and opened fire. People ran helter-skelter as Mr. Lone and his guards fell down. The guards, Bishen Singh, Gulzar Ahmed and Mohammad Yaseen, died on the spot.

"The security forces also ran away and did not retaliate," said an eyewitness, who was standing near the podium. Mr. Lone died of his injuries on the way to hospital near Dragmulla, close to the Kupwara district headquarters. The injured were admitted to hospital.

The LeT spokesman for north Kashmir, Mohammad Shakeel, told a local news agency, Kashmir Press Service, that the attack was carried out by an "anti-election squad" headed by Saiful Islam. "Today's attack was carried out by a 14-year-old boy, Abu Waqas," he said. Earlier, another outfit, Al Afreen, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

A pall of gloom descended on Sogam village, from where Mr. Lone hails, as the news of his killing spread. Thousands of supporters and admirers thronged his house. "We have lost a popular leader, who was simple and generous," said a supporter.

The Chief Minister, Farooq Abdullah, and his Cabinet colleagues, Chowdary Mohammad Ramzan, Ali Mohammad Sagar and Khalid Suhrawardy, have rushed to Sogam.

In the attack on the residence of Ms. Ittoo in Damhal Hanjipora in Anantnag district, four party workers were injured. The Minister was not present in her house at the time of the attack.

In Bandipore, militants attacked the vehicle of the PDP candidate, Mohammad Abdullah Mir, injuring five persons, including his son and brother. The district president of the NC women's wing, Mehra Begum, was shot dead in Baramulla on Tuesday.

Farmers to continue stir in Mandya District(KARNATAKA)

BANGALORE

Sept. 11 2002

Farmers of Mandya District, who have been agitating against the release of water to Tamil Nadu, have said they will continue with the protest.

Emerging from a two-hour meeting with the Chief Minister, S.M.Krishna, here today, their leaders said that the agitation would continue without causing any inconvenience to the people.

They said that the protest would be confined to the vicinity of the four reservoirs in the Cauvery Basin and that farmers would desist from violence and resorting to rail roko or rasta roko, which caused inconvenience to the people.The former MP, G. Made Gowda, told presspersons after the meeting that it was impossible to release water to Tamil Nadu as the water levels in all the four Cauvery Basin reservoirs were low.

He said the farmers' representatives had told Mr. Krishna that it was not possible for them to cooperate with the Govt.Mr. Gowda said the water level in the four reservoirs put together was only 44 tmcft., and Mandya District required at least 350 tmcft. of water for its four crops during the year. Already standing paddy crop in 50,000 acres had begun to wither due to lack of water, and any release of water to Tamil Nadu at this juncture would jeopardise the interests of the State's farmers, he said.

The Chief Minister was told to look at the ground reality, he said and added that if the inflow into the Kabini Reservoir was only 1,500 cusecs, how would it be possible to release more water than that.

He said that the farmers had submitted a memorandum on the actual position in the four reservoirs. The President of a faction of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, K.S.Puttannaiah, deplored the release of water to Tamil Nadu when there was no water for the State's farmers. He said the farmers were determined to block the water release to Tamil Nadu from the four reservoirs.

Mr. Puttannaiah, while firmly stating that the agitation would not be halted, declared that the farmers would not do anything that would cause inconvenience to the people. The noted film star, Ambarish, who also attended the meeting, said that as an MP from Mandya he was duty bound to protect the interests of farmers.

Opposition failed State...Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

Chennai

Sept. 11 2002 Apart from attacking the Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu for their failure to support the State Govt on the Cauvery issue, the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today hit out at the BJP and the Congress for politicising the dispute with an eye on polls in Karnataka.

As the BJP and the Congress realised that they would not be able to capture power in Tamil Nadu, they betrayed the State's interests on the Cauvery issue, she said in a statement. Noting that Assembly polls were due in Karnataka along with the next Lok Sabha polls, she said the BJP wanted to come to power in Karnataka, while the Congress wanted to retain power.

Thus while the Opposition in Karnataka backed its Government on the Cauvery issue, parties such as the DMK, the PMK, and the MDMK, which were constituents of the NDA Government at the Centre did not speak in support of the State. "Why did not people such as the MDMK general secretary, Vaiko, who fight for extremist organisations such as the LTTE, raise their voice for Tamil Nadu?'' she asked. Although Tamil Nadu had ten representatives in the Union Govt, not one of them spoke against the injustice meted out to the State by the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, in his ruling after the meeting of the Cauvery River Authority.

The opposition parties in Karnataka put pressure on the Centre to convene an emergency meeting of the CRA. Though he interacts with the media regularly, the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, was yet to speak a word on the Cauvery issue. "It is evident that he does not want to say anything that could endanger the ministership of his nephew, Murasoli Maran,'' she said.

Ms. Jayalalithaa wondered why the TNCC president, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, was unable to ask the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, to pressure the Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, to release water for Tamil Nadu. "Is it not the same Congress to which Mr. Elangovan belongs that is in power in Karnataka'' she asked.

"The people know very well who is fighting for justice on the Cauvery issue, and who is acting in deceit.''

1200 Pondy school students taken ill

Pondicherry

Sept 5 2002

About 1,200 students of govt and aided schools in Pondicherry were hospitalised as they developed food poisoning symptoms after consuming milk and bread served under a free breakfast scheme today. The children, who were rushed to hospital when they complained of nausea and began vomiting, are, however, out of danger.

The Chief Minister, N. Rangasamy, immediately ordered suspension of the scheme, launched with fanfare, during the visit here of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, on August 14. The Collector would hold an inquiry into food poisoning. Samples of the milk and bread have been sent for laboratory examination.

The first cases were reported at the Sinnatha Government Girls School and the Kamaraj Government High School.

Teachers, with the help of local residents, mobilised all available vehicles to take the children to the General Hospital. As private schools and a few more government institutions also reported such cases, the hospital was unable to handle the rush. Many of the children were then taken to the JIPMER hospital.

Anxious parents gatecrashed into the hospital, catching doctors unawares. The police were immediately deployed on the hospital campus. All available stretchers, wheelchairs and rooms in the General Hospital were put to use as more and more students were brought there.

As a precautionary measure, all children who took breakfast were taken there for a health check-up. Many of those admitted to the hospital were discharged after first-aid. According to sources, 10 children were kept in the hospital for observation. Mr. Rangasamy visited the hospital.

The DMK State committee convener, R.V. Janakiraman, said the ``haste and carelessness'' with which it was implemented deserved condemnation. Although bread supplied in Karaikal was found to be substandard and deficiencies in implementation were pointed out, the Govt continued to be indifferent, he said.